17 surprising facts about Bill Gates

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesBill Gates speaking at an event in Washington, 2014.

Most people know three things about Bill Gates:

  1. He is one of the richest men in the world.
  2. He cofounded one of the most successful tech companies of all time in Microsoft.
  3. He’s an extremely generous philanthropist through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But despite his philanthropic efforts and online presence, there are a lot of things about Gates that many are unaware of.

Here are 17 facts you probably didn’t know about Bill Gates:

1. As a teen at Lakeside Prep School, Gates wrote his first computer program on a General Electric computer. It was a version of tic-tac-toe where you could play against the machine.


Source: Science Museum

2. Once his school discovered Gates’ coding abilities, they let him write the school’s computer program for scheduling students in classes. Gates slyly altered the code so he was placed in classes with a “disproportionate number of interesting girls.”

Doug Wilson/CORBIS

Source: Science Museum

3. Gates also read the entire “World Book Encyclopedia” series during his teenage years.


Source: The Wall Street Journal

4. Gates scored a near-perfect 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs.

Source: Science Museum

5. Like many other successful tech entrepreneurs, Gates was a college dropout. He left Harvard University in 1975 to fully devote himself to Microsoft.

William B. Plowman/Getty Images

Source: The Week

6. Two years after he dropped out of Harvard, Gates was arrested in New Mexico. He was driving without a licence and ran a red light.

Wikimedia Commons

Source: The Telegraph

7. At Microsoft, Gates used to memorise employees’ licence plates to keep tabs on their comings and goings. “Eventually I had to loosen up, as the company got to a reasonable size,” he said.

Source: BBC

8. Speaking of cars, Gates has quite the Porsche collection. The headliner is his Porsche 959 sports car, which he bought 13 years before the car was approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency or the US Department of Transportation.

Dave Smith/Tech Insider

Source: Wired

9. For air travel, Gates used to fly coach. Nowadays he gets around in the plane he’s owned since 1997, which he calls his “big splurge.”

Source: Reddit

10. Besides his plane, one of Gates’ biggest splurges was the Codex Leicester, a collection of writings by Leonardo da Vinci. He acquired it at a 1994 auction for $US30.8 million.

Source: Fast Company

11. Despite his immense wealth, Gates says his kids will only inherit $US10 million each — just a fraction of his $US90.9 billion net worth. “Leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favour to them,” he says.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Source: Reddit

12. Though he spends most of his time with his foundation, Gates says he is still working with Microsoft on its “Personal Agent,” which will “remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to.”

P Yim / Getty

Source: Reddit

13. Gates says if Microsoft hadn’t worked out, he probably would have been a researcher for artificial intelligence.


Source: Reddit

14. Despite his interest in AI, Gates says he is “in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence.” That camp also includes notable leaders in science in technology, like Elon Musk and the late Stephen Hawking.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Reddit

15. Bill Gates’ favourite band? Weezer. He also calls U2 a “favourite” and says he’s still “waiting for Spinal Tap to go back on tour.”

Source: Reddit

16. Gates says he reads 50 books a year. “Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding,” he says.


Source: The New York Times

These were his favourite books from 2015.

17. Gates doesn’t know any foreign languages. That, he says, is his biggest regret in life thus far.

Source: Reddit

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